Sarah Greenberg recommends ‘Thomas Scheibitz: A moving Plan B – chapter two’, at Sprüth Magers Gallery
These days it seems we all need a plan B, and the artist Thomas Scheibitz calls attention to this in the title of his new show, ‘A moving Plan B’, that opened last night at Spruth Magers Gallery, a five-minute walk from the RA.
Thomas Scheibitz, 'A moving Plan B', GP 151 c, 2010 Vinyl, pencil, pigment marker on rag paper. Courtesy the Artist and Sprüth Magers Berlin London
I have long been a fan of this Berlin-based artist (b. 1968), whose vibrant paintings and sculptures seem to reconsider twentieth-century modernism – particularly constructivism, architecture and abstraction – and ask ‘where do we go from here?’ When he represented Germany at the 2005 Venice Biennale, his display of large-scale, colorfully painted sculptures both celebrated and questioned the grand, heroic scale of the German pavilion and its national ethos. His show at the Camden Art Centre in 2008 brought him to the attention of a wider British public and he is also in the Saatchi collection. The current show is worth a look because it provides a glimpse into his working methods. The installation of paintings, sculpture and drawings creates a kind of ‘artist’s laboratory’, similar in concept to the one now on show
at the RA, and offers insight into the artist’s creative process.
‘The title “A moving plan B” has a number of meanings,’ Scheibitz told me at the opening last night. ‘It refers to how a great idea can come to you in an instant. Then you sleep on it and that’s plan B, once it’s had a chance to settle and take a different form. It also refers to music and to the B-side of LPs, which is usually the side the musician prefers – it’s more creative and less commercial. And so this series of works, which can be seen as showing “prototypes” of my paintings, looks at that tension in art. Why should one image appear on a catalogue cover or poster and not another? Is one better than another? Is one more typical?’
Thomas Scheibitz, 'Day and Night', 2010. Installation view. Courtesy the artist and Sprüth Magers Berlin London. © Photography Lee Turner He refers to his series of paintings (see above) wrapping around a corner of the gallery as a ‘frieze’ to emphasise that the paintings need to be seen as part of an architectural space, and not in isolation. ‘I was inspired to do this when I was in Belgium and saw a big mural by Magritte that incorporated all his main pictorial motifs on a massive scale. I wondered how I might do that with my own work, so most of the colours and motifs are here in these paintings.’ He has been working on this for over four years and has plotted the work out in drawings, which incorporate his own work and source material ranging from photographs and cartoons to Renaissance paintings – like a visual diary of his ideas and influences.
Across the room from the ‘frieze’ of paintings is a related sculpture made of neon lights (see right). ‘Light is key to how we see colour. Whenever I make a painting, I look at it in the dark with only a light bulb so I can see how the colours work in different conditions. This light sculpture isolates all the key colours of my paintings. The candle beneath it is pure kitsch,’ he jokes, but it also suggests the relationship between the natural and artificial world, which he constantly questions in his work.
‘The title also refers to moving from A to B,’ says Scheibitz, whose walks through the architectural flux of Berlin with often provide inspiration for his work. In this case, A to B refers to London, since this is a show in two parts, with a simultaneous exhibition of his drawings at the Drawing Room
in the East End.
- ‘Thomas Scheibitz: A moving Plan B – chapter two’ (17/09/10–30/10/10) Sprüth Magers, 7A Grafton ST, London W1S 4EJ | 020 7408 1613 | www.spruethmagers.com